Smooth transition as new police chief takes reins
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Mar. 1, 2012
Officially taking office on Feb. 26, the Glastonbury Police Department's new chief said little has changed in the department after Chief Thomas Sweeney's retirement a month prior, and that is the way he wants things to continue. David Caron has been with the GPD since 1976, and has been the second in command since 1996 (the rank of commander was given a title change to captain in 2002). He was sworn in as chief at a ceremony at Town Hall on Feb. 27.
“It's been a very smooth transition,” Caron said, two days into his new position. “It's easy because I've worked here 35 years. I've been acting in his place, running the day-to-day operations, and I've done it in the past when he [Sweeney] was out an extended period of time.”
Caron was selected by Town Manager Richard Johnson, among three other candidates from within the department, after several rounds of interviews.
The biggest change for Caron is that he will no longer be running the Capitol Region Emergency Services Team (CREST), which he founded. One of the founding provisions of the SWAT-like team is that a department chief would not be the commander, in order to avoid conflicts when going into one of the nine other member towns.
Captain Stephen Clark of Vernon will be the new CREST commander, with Caron assisting during the transition period. “He's a very well-qualified individual,” Caron said.
There is also an adjustment to being at the top of the chain of command at the GDP. “Instead of having the collaborative relationship with the chief, it's now my decision-making process,” Caron said, adding that he intends to go forward with the same philosophies of the community-oriented police department, while having to deal with more personnel issues.
“I would deal with them and pass them up to the chief with a recommendation,” Caron said. “Now, they are coming to me, and being as I don't have a second-in-command, I'm doing both jobs.”
That #2 position Caron vacated is expected to be filled soon, with a testing process underway.
There is also a bit of a transition with many relatively new officers on the force, and they are being kept busy, due in part to the state of the economy. “We tend to get a rise in calls for service because of things to do with the economy,” he said. “People are having tough times, and it takes its tolls on families. Our goal with that is to get them pointed in the right direction. There are services out there, and we have services here. A lot of people are not aware of what's available to them.”
Caron said he plans to do some public relations work himself. “For me, it's getting out there and getting re-acquainted with the civic groups, so that people know who I am. I think it's important that they know who the chief is,” he said, “and let them know that it's business as usual – we're here, and we want to be responsive to the community.”
For Caron, that should come easy. Although he doesn't reside in Glastonbury, he said he has “lived” here for the past 35 years. “I love this town,” he said. “I spend all of my time here. I know more about this town than I do any other town. I've watched it change. When I first came here, we were still transitioning from a farm community to a bedroom community.”
Part of the relationship with the community is the GPD's Youth Unit, which Caron helped form. He said that relationship is one example of how being a community-oriented force has helped with crime-solving. “If there is crime, or we're having a problem with the youth in the community, we are able to resolve it very quickly, just because of those relationships that we've forged both ways,” he said, “and the trust that goes both ways between the officers and the kids in the community.”
With no new initiatives pending for the department, Caron doesn't plan to make any big changes. “I've been in a command position in this department for the past 25 years, and I've been second in command for the past 15,” Caron said. “Pretty much the way it's set up – me working with the chief – is the way that it is. There's always room to tweak here and there, but I think it runs pretty well right now. I just hope to be successful.”